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Temp Employment and the Collapse of Trust

Posted in Economy,General,Logic,Thought of the Day by admin on the June 2nd, 2014

The promise of lifetime employment is gone. We’re a nation of at-will/contract/and temp employees. Our employers make no promises we’re needed into the future. We’re supposed to take the gruel we get and thank god we have any at all.

But this change does not come without some downsides for the employers. Remember in the old days when the guy with the wife, house, and kids got the promotions and the raises? Employers didn’t treat fathers better because they loved fathers. Giving a father a raise was not based on some emotion to help the father’s kids. It was a strategic and profit based decision.

Imagine two employees of equal ability. One is married, has a house with a mortgage, and three kids to take care of. The other has no ties at all. Who do you promote, the guy who is financially tied to his job or the guy who isn’t?

Of course you pick the guy who is financially tied to his job. If you’re going to promote, train, and trust this guy, you want to know you have him over a barrel.

That was the deal we made in the old days. Employers would offer lifetime employment and takers would financially submit to it. Both employers and employees would trust each other.

But those days are gone. There is no trust. Employees don’t trust their employers because their employers emphatically state that employees can be let go for any reason. Employers don’t trust their employees, because they’re not profiting on trust, they’re profiting from low wages and a high turnover. They’re trusting in a system of low wages and high unemployment.

I’m speaking hypothetically, but in thinking about this, I have to ask, how did Edward Snowden get as high up as he did as a fucking contract worker?! In the old days, Snowden never would have been promoted without first submitting financially to what the NSA was doing. And I personally doubt he would have bought into the wife, house, and kids lifestyle. But of course, I could be wrong.

But… what I’m saying is that there are plenty of Americans who think Snowden should have been more loyal to his employer. Despite the fact that the NSA gave him absolutely no loyalty back. Once again, Snowden did not work for the NSA. He was a temp worker. A contract worker. He was an at-will employee.

Exactly why do we still expect employees to be loyal without loyalty in return? We shouldn’t. Employers want short term profits in exchange for long term stability based on trust. This is their fault, not ours.

Mad Men: Why did Sally choose the Nerd over the Jock?

Posted in Reviews,Thought of the Day by admin on the May 27th, 2014

In season six’s episode Waterloo, young Sally Draper was first attracted to the handsome athlete and but kisses the nerd instead. The A.V. Club suggests that she chose the nerd because he was the safer choice. Willa Paskin wonders at Slate whether Sally was being pragmatic or just impulsive.

While there is no truth to fiction, it seem quite clear to me. Sally is rejecting the traditional approach to choosing a mate. Betty first chooses Don because he’s handsome and mysterious. She then chooses Francis because he’s safe and stable. Sally finds a third way.

Right before Don called, the handsome boy criticized the moon landing as costing too much. When Don asked Sally about the landing she parroted the handsome boy’s criticism. Don asked (something along the lines of), “You don’t really believe that, do you?”

She didn’t answer, but she didn’t believe it. At that point she realized that she does not have to live like her mom and parrot what men think. She’s free to pick who she wants, because handsome, is not the best criteria when freedom is at stake.

So she picks the nerd. Of course the nerd tries and tells her what he thinks, “smoking causes cancer.” And she initially follows what he thinks, she doesn’t smoke. But she’s doing it not because of what he wants, but because he happens to be right. She knows that smoking is bad. And the fact that the nerd rejects being “cool” in favor of being healthy is appealing to her. The nerd doesn’t follow what society expects of him. She doesn’t have to follow what society expects of her, either.

So Sally picked the nerd because she’s rejecting the past. The way her mom picked a mate. She’s going to pick someone who lets her be herself, as an individual. No matter how much of a better husband Henry Francis is than Don, he still expects his women to be a blank slate. By rejecting the athlete, Sally is rejecting looks, Don, and safe conformity, Francis.

Why are the politically incorrect so easily offended?

Posted in General,Humor,Religion,Thought of the Day by admin on the May 13th, 2014

I’ve noticed that people who claim to be politically incorrect are often the easiest to be offended. Here’s an example. I was in line at Game Stop last December. The clerk said to a customer, “Happy Holidays.”

The customer started loudly ranting, “Are you too politically correct to say Merry Christmas?! I’m not politically correct. I’m politically incorrect and I’m not afraid to offend anyone. I’ll say it like it is… Have a merry Christmas!

As calmly as possible I replied, “Well, for being so politically incorrect you seem to be easily offended. First, there are multiple holidays this time of year. Second, why are you so offended by a clerk who recognizes these other holidays?”

He turned to me and glared. He then took his bag and left without saying another word.

Can Rape Jokes Be Funny?

Posted in General,Thought of the Day by admin on the April 28th, 2014

Last year Daniel Tosh made a rape joke to a heckler. It started a debate as to whether rape jokes are ever funny or appropriate.

After that I noticed that nearly ever episode of Family Guy has a rape joke in it. Such as the Aquaman is Useless bit. In the video Stewie says someone is as useless as Aquaman. It switches to a scene on a beach where a woman is being violently raped. Aquaman can’t do anything to help her because he has no powers on land. In other words, he’s so useless he can’t even stop a rape.

Anyway, long story short, I noticed a rape joke in a kids’ show. Nickelodeon has a show for kids called The Haunted Hathaways. The premise is that a family of three moves into a house with a family of three ghosts. They decide to live together to learn about life and death.

Actually, I’m kidding about the death part, but obviously the ghost family died together, although it’s never explained how.

Anyway… one of the ghost kids takes over a stuffed bear. It gets sold at a garage sale to a little girl. The ghost boy does not want to go. The little girl starts kissing on the bear and the ghost boy says something like “no” and “stop.” The little girl says something like, “Feisty, I like that,” and stuffs the bear (along with the boy ghost) into her backpack.

Is the little girl going to rape the bear? No. Of course not. But she forced herself on a bear, and when she learned it did not like it, she liked it even more. While it’s not exactly rape, it certainly is rapish in spirit. But more importantly, the joke wasn’t really funny, to me at least.

But also to me, rape jokes can be funny, when they’re funny. Murder is funny, when the jokes are funny. And even the Holocaust is funny, when the jokes are funny.

Jokes are subjective. Some people don’t find humor in anything. That does not mean nothing is objectively funny. Some people don’t like music or reading, that does not mean that music or reading is objectively bad.

Certainly, if you were raped. A joke about it might not be funny. But that might also be true about a joke about divorce, about being fat, or about falling down, if you went through a nasty divorce, are fat, or are clumsy. But your subjective feelings don’t get to decide what everyone else enjoys.

So if your friend loans you a book, and you hate reading. Politely decline. If your friend wants to go to a concert, and you hate music, politely decline. And if your friend wants to go see an edgy comedian, and you hate being on the edge, politely decline. Or rudely, I don’t really care.

What if Fred Phelps wanted Gay Rights?

Posted in Thought of the Day by admin on the April 7th, 2014

Most people know Fred Phelps as the face of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church. To say that the Westboro Baptist Church is anti-gay is an understatement. That’s like saying Nazi’s disfavor Jews. Fred Phelps, through his Westboro Baptist Church, spent over a decade fighting against homosexuality. But what most people don’t know is that Fred Phelps was a life long supporter of the Democratic party and that he was a very successful civil rights attorney. As an attorney he fought vigorously for the rights of blacks, immigrants, women, etc.

How did this man change from a progressive liberal who fought to give rights to the disenfranchised into being the most hated right wing religious nut in the country? My theory, er… hypothesis, is that he didn’t change. Maybe to ensure the rights of gays and lesbians he created an opposition to those rights that no sane person could support.

Think about it, he went out of his ways to piss people off. Even protesting at military funerals, for no apparent reason. Liberals hated him. Conservatives avoided him. It’s almost as if his entire campaign was specifically designed to make the LGBT movement appear sane and rational.

Now I’m not saying everyone in his church knew what he was up to. And have I no doubt that some less than sane people signed up for his church and genuinely believed his fake message.

But I’m leaning towards not believing that Phelps was the evil man he presented himself to be. I’m leaning towards the belief that he made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that a disenfranchised group had the same rights as everyone else. I have no way of proving my theory. But based upon the evidence, it’s the only thing that makes sense.

What’s up with Walmart not wanting to sell merchandise?

Posted in General,Logic,Thought of the Day by admin on the March 31st, 2014

I keep hearing stories about Walmart refusing to hire enough employees to keep some of their stores fully stocked. According to the complaints, Walmart has the merchandise in stock, in the backroom, but there are simply no employees to take it out onto the sales floor and stock it.

Allegedly Walmart is doing this to save money. But that makes no fucking sense at all. I used to work at a supermarket and the number one rule was, “Nothing sells out of the backroom!” That was drilled into every employees’ head. Restock before the floor is out of stock and never let the floor run out. And if by some bizarre chance or customer rush, if something is out of stock on the floor, then stop whatever the fuck you’re doing and restock!!!

In other words, nothing is more important than getting the product on the sales floor.

But here’s Walmart intentionally refusing to take sales to save money on hiring employees. Taken to its extreme, Walmart would be an empty warehouse with greeters. Exactly how in the fuck is that supposed to make money? To put it another way, hasn’t anyone at Walmart heard the expression you have to spend money to make money?!

So what is Walmart’s deal? I came up with some theories.

First, Walmart’s profit margins are so low for some products it actually costs more to stock the product than they make from selling it. If that’s true, it does make sense not to stock. However, what would make even more sense would be to fucking raise prices to make these products profitable to actually sell. Walmart sets its own prices, why would it intentionally set prices so low it’s not worth even selling the products?!

Are these missing products “loss leaders”? Products that are intentionally priced below profit to get people in the store. But that doesn’t make any sense either, because buying loss leaders to get people in your store and then not stocking them does not get anyone in your store. It defeats the entire purpose of loss leaders. Can the powers that be at Walmart be that stupid?!

Could it be from a draconian bureaucracy? Maybe the upper echelons of Walmart corporate have decided that local stores have to get a better handle on their wages. According to the article linked above, stockers earn more money at Walmart than other associates. So maybe local managers are eliminating stockers to stay in compliance. Eventually corporate will be more concerned with actual sales numbers and the directive against employees will be relaxed. That appears to be happening now, according to the article I linked above.

Speaking of stockers earning more money… maybe Walmart wants to eliminate that wage disparity without causing a ruckus. So they’re reducing the population of stockers so they’ll be less people to bitch about either having their wages reduced or not receiving a raise. Then once the wages are reduced (or not raised) and the disparity is gone, Walmart will start hiring stockers again. This would obviously be a long term plan, because in the short term it makes no sense.

The only possible plan that makes any sense at all is the last one. So I’ll keep my ears open to see if Walmart decides to lower wages for stockers. But I doubt it. To paraphrase, never attribute to complex logic that which can be explained by simple stupidity.

I’m going to go with a simple answer: Short term greed. Someone at Walmart corporate decided that wages were rising and were slightly impacting short term profits. So s/he did a very stupid thing. That someone directed the reduction of employees without considering the consequences. Because of the directive local managers eliminated the stockers, because they earned the most. And because of that Walmart stores were stuck with stock it refused to sell.

Update – 11/17/2014: According to this article Walmart is still refusing to provide enough workers to stock their shelves. Very strange indeed.

All people are equal, but some people are more equal than others

Posted in Law,Logic,Thought of the Day by admin on the March 24th, 2014

Feminists in Portland, Maine staged a topless protest to bring attention to what they claim is a double standard when it comes to the public display of upper torsos. I should point out that it is not illegal for women to go topless in Maine. So I’m not entirely sure what they were protesting. What exactly did they hope to achieve? I have no idea.

But they were “surprised” and “upset” that men came and took pictures of their topless breasts. Despite making a public spectacle of themselves, they were upset that men were noticing and taking pictures of it.

Sure, I agree an ideal world be one where men and women were treated perfectly equally and men didn’t obsess over boobs. But feminists have to recognize that we do live in a world where some men (and even some women) are obsessed with boobs.

By protesting, the feminists have basically disproved their own point. They want to be treated the same, but are surprised and upset when they are treated the same. They want to walk around topless in public, as the law allows, but they want to be treated differently because they don’t want men actually noticing them. It’s perfectly legal to take pictures of men who make a spectacle of themselves in public. But women, they’re special. We need to make an exception and protect them… in order to promote equality.

That’s the message they’re sending. And if they truly want equality, it’s the wrong message. If there is nothing “wrong” with their boobs in public, then there’s nothing wrong with men taking pictures of them. And by feminists arguing that there is a difference when it pertains to women, they’re arguing against equality.

Update: I’ve immediately updated this post because I realized exactly what someone is going to say in response:

“It’s not about feminism or equal rights, it’s about treating people with respect. And it’s disrespectful to take pictures of women’s boobs against their will.”

And that only proves my point. Feminists demand “respect,” but they demand a different respect from men.

Right now it’s legally and morally acceptable to take pictures of people who make spectacles of themselves in public. But feminists want to change the notion of respect and apply it only to themselves. They want to be treated equally, but then demand exceptions to that equal treatment. That’s not equality.

In Defense of Atlanta’s Snowy Drivers

Posted in General,Thought of the Day by admin on the January 31st, 2014

Northern midwesterners are laughing at the idiot drivers in Atlanta. Three inches of snow and the entire city shuts down. Drivers would run out of gas and abandon their cars and walk home. Schools could not get their kids home. God they’re idiots. That would never happen up here in the north. We know how to drive.

But us northerners don’t really understand what happened. The problem was not actually the snow and ice. The problem was Atlanta’s inherent traffic problem. The snow and ice were merely an exacerbation… a catalyst… of the traffic problem.

Other than Chicago, midwesterners rarely have to deal with traffic. And I’m not talking about a five minute delay to work because of rubber-necking. I’m talking about institutionally ingrained traffic.

I never lived in Atlanta, which is famous for its insidious traffic. But I did live in Maryland and had to deal with the Baltimore and Washington DC beltways on a regular basis. It was the first time I ever truly knew what traffic was.

If I drove to school on a Sunday, when there was no traffic, I could get there in 20 minutes. However, during the week, the exact same drive could take an hour and a half…or longer, depending on when I made the attempt. And this happens every single morning and every single evening. Sitting in traffic and waiting is just a part of driving. You plan for it. You plan around it. But, eventually you get used to it.

So here’s what happened the Tuesday of the snow dusting in Atlanta. Everyone attempted to go home at the exact same time. So think about a 20 minute drive, which takes an hour and a half because of traffic, and then multiply that traffic exponentially so that nearly everyone is on the road at the same time.

Even if there was no snow or ice, the city would have shut down under that circumstance. Cars would have run out of gas. Cars would have been abandoned. People would have started walking. And plenty of kids never would have made it home. Without a single flake of snow falling!

That’s what I mean when I say the snow merely exacerbated the problem. The traffic problem is there. It’s always there. The snow just pushed everyone to leave at the same time. That caused more gridlock. Which caused the city to shut down.

What I’m saying is that if you were visiting Atlanta the day of the storm, you and your 4×4 truck would have been stuck in traffic, just like everyone else.

Update – 2/1/14:

Here’s a pretty good article on Slate explaining why Atlanta’s traffic problems are so screwed up.

A Grimm Tale: The Death of the Fourth Estate

Posted in General,Logic,Old Curmudgeon,Politics,Thought of the Day by admin on the January 30th, 2014

Recently a Congressman by the name Michael Grimm threatened to attack a reporter for daring to ask questions about his personal campaign finances rather than softball questions about the event he attended.

Most people talking about the incident are shocked that a US Congressmen, and former FBI agent, could do such a horrible thing. To me, that’s not the shocking thing. The shocking thing is that this incident fully demonstrates how we no longer have a free press.

Here’s Grimm’s first explanation, rather than apology.

I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests. The reporter knew that I was in a hurry and was only there to comment on the State of the Union, but insisted on taking a disrespectful and cheap shot at the end of the interview, because I did not have time to speak off-topic. I verbally took the reporter to task and told him off, because I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favor. I doubt that I am the first Member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I am sure I won’t be the last.

To Grimm, and others in politics, it’s unprofessional and disrespectful for a reporter to ask real questions. A “professional” reporter should politely ask softball questions so as not to embarrass the politician. That’s the way the system is supposed to work, for Grimm and others. And that’s why Grimm got so pissed. Because the reporter didn’t follow the rules.

And that’s much scarier to me than a politician threatening someone. The fact that our entire “free press,” which is supposed to be watching out for us, getting real stories, and getting to the truth, is barred from asking questions about real stories or the truth. That’s fucking scary.

Essentially, the entire Fourth Estate is nothing more than a press agent for the rich and powerful. The rich and powerful have messages they want to get out and facts they need buried. Journalism’s job is to report those messages and bury those facts. It’s all neat and tidy. The rich and powerful are free to do whatever they want. And the press get access, meaningless access, but access, nonetheless. And any reporter that dares to ask real questions is painted as rude and unprofessional and is not to be trusted.

Update: United States Senator from Kentucky Mitchell McConnell recently called the police to keep journalist Joe Sonka from asking questions at a press conference. While the police did come, Sonka was not arrested and was trying to negotiate entry into the conference. He asked the Senator why “he was so afraid to have me ask a question.” The Senator replied, “Joe! I’m being a gentleman here.”
I’ll quote what happened next from Sonka:

When I replied by asking him how threatening me with arrest for covering a press conference with plenty of room is being a “gentleman,” he cut me off and said, “Joe! You’re not going in there,” and walked away.

Think about McConnell’s statement. In the Senator’s twisted mind, not having a journalist arrested and requiring him to not ask any questions at a press conference is being a “gentlemen.”

That fits in perfectly from the situation from above. It’s ungentlemanly for journalists to actually do their jobs. To ask questions and get to the truth regarding things that actually matter. If you do such things, you should be arrested for the crime of being ungentlemanly.

What this is, is an old boys’ network. Everyone on the inside knows it’s a scam. But it’s impolite to talk about it being a scam. Actually, it’s more than impolite, according to McConnell it’s criminal.

Update: I came across a real world example of a press agent acting as a journalist. Ken Dilanian was an Associated Press intelligence reporter and a “journalist” with the LA Times who covered the CIA. However, he was not objective in his coverage. He would forward copies of stories he would write about the CIA to the CIA for approval.

What good is news about the CIA that only comes from the CIA? Heck, it’s no longer news. It’s just information the CIA wants us to know about. And everyone American should be deathly afraid of that sort of cozy system. Entities that control us get their stories out, other stories eliminated, and the “reporter” gets access to more BS. At no point are citizens helped by that system.

Update: I came across a situation where a politician threatened a reporter with arrest for asking to see his tax returns.

The Lost Generation of Rickenbacker

Posted in General,Random,Thought of the Day by admin on the January 27th, 2014

Rickenbacker guitars. From the the Beatles, the Byrds, to the Bangles, they were awesome. All you needed was a Rickenbacker guitar, a Vox amp, and some catchy ass songs. And the money would just pour in. Those were the days.

I’m in the market to buy a Vox amp (either a AC15C1-PL or maybe a AC30C2-PL, depending how much I can get for some trades) so I immediately thought about getting a Rick, too.

I’ve had so many guitars over the decades. Mostly Fenders, MIM Teles and Strats. I’ve had some really nice ones, too. An American made ’68 Strat and ’74 Fender Telecaster Deluxe. But I’ve never even come close to owning, or even playing, a Rickenbacker. A friend had one and it was so precious and cost so much, he would not even let me play it. Not that I wanted to. I didn’t want to even risk scratching it. Ricks were fucking special.

But now that I’m an adult and have a “real” job I thought, I should treat myself to a Rickenbacker. But it ain’t happening. They’re not priced to sell. Even a used low-end Rick will cost you over a grand.

In a way that might seem awesome. Both Gibson and Fender have “sold out” by selling cheap knock offs. Both Gibson and Fender have their high end American made stuff. The next lower level is their Mexican and Japanese made stuff. Then their lowest level is their respective Epiphone and Squire brands. So it might seem cool that Rickenbacker refuses to buckle on quality and continues to only make the best.

But the downside is that the high prices keep Rickenbackers out of the hands of the youngest musicians. Young musicians have plenty of options to buy Gibson and Fender guitars. They’ll take the Strat, Tele, or Les Paul sound and make it their own. As they get better and more successful they can upgrade the electronics or just get better guitars all together. But, they’re gonna be stuck with either the Fender or Gibson mindset.

The world has lost generations of young guitar players who could have bought Ricks and innovated, but could not afford to. E.g., a 16 year old kid who has never heard of the Byrds, but buys a Rick from a pawnshop because he liked the sound. What new styles of music would he have developed? What new genres have been lost? The only people who use can afford to use Ricks are basically retro artists. Tom Petty, the Bangles, REM and others, are just doing modernized versions of what the Byrds and other 60s acts started.

Rickenbacker’s high prices have essentially trapped their guitars and unique sound into a time capsule. Adored on their pedestals, but static in use. And I find that sad.

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